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Jakarta Post

The seas should unite, not separate us

The seas should unite, not separate us
Joko Widodo
Naypyitaw   ●   Fri, November 14, 2014

For Indonesia, this year'€™s East Asia Summit (EAS) plays an important role in regional security, stability and economic prosperity.

Thus I have chosen this forum to convey my thoughts on Indonesia as a '€œWorld Maritime Axis'€ and my hopes for the future role of the East Asia Summit. Indonesia is aware that a major transformation is taking place in the 21st century. The center of the world'€™s geoeconomics and geopolitics is shifting from the West to East Asia. Asian countries are rising.

With an average annual growth rate of 7 percent and a total GDP of US$40 trillion, economically East Asia has become the most dynamic region. Around 40 percent of world trade is conducted in this region.

In this dynamic, the sea is becoming more important for our future. The sea lanes that connect two strategic oceans '€” the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean '€” have become important channels for world trade traffic. The three Indonesian archipelagic sea lanes make up a passage for this traffic. And these two strategic oceans contain a fortune of energy and other resources, which may determine the region'€™s future prosperity.

Indonesia lies in the exact center of the strategic changing process, geographically, geopolitically and geoeconomically.

Thus, as a maritime country, Indonesia should assert itself as the World Maritime Axis. This position opens opportunities for Indonesia to develop regional and international cooperation for the prosperity of the people.

The development agenda to actualize this axis has five main pillars.

First, we will rebuild Indonesia'€™s maritime culture. As a country that is made up of 17,000 islands, the nation must realize that it is, and see itself as, a nation whose identity, prosperity and future is largely determined by how it manages the ocean.

Second, we will maintain and manage sea resources with a focus on establishing sovereignty over sea-based food products through the development of fisheries by placing fishermen as the main pillar. Our maritime wealth will be put to use primary in the interests of our people.

Third, we will prioritize infrastructure and maritime connectivity development by building sea highways and deep sea ports and developing logistics, the shipping industry and maritime tourism.

Fourth, through maritime diplomacy, we invite all Indonesian partners to work together in this maritime field. Together we must end the sources of conflict at sea, such as fish thefts, violation of sovereignty, territorial disputes, piracy and pollution. The seas should unite, not separate us.

Fifth, as a country that is the bridge between two oceans, Indonesia is obligated to build its maritime defense power. This is necessary not only to secure our maritime wealth and sovereignty but also to take responsibility for safeguarding navigation safety and maritime security.

The above aspiration and agenda will be Indonesia'€™s focus in the 21st century. Indonesia will become the World Maritime Axis, a power that sails the two oceans, a prosperous and reliable maritime nation.

As the World Maritime Axis, Indonesia is certainly interested in participating in determining the future of the Indian and Pacific Ocean region.

We want the Indian and Pacific Oceans to remain peaceful and safe for world trade instead of being a battlefield for natural resources, territorial conflicts and maritime supremacy.

My view is that maritime potential has not been explored to its maximum in the East Asia Summit. Indonesia proposes that maritime cooperation become an important priority of the East Asia Summit.

We encourage ASEAN country partners at the East Asia Summit to support and to be actively involved in the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, in particular the aspects concerning maritime infrastructure and connectivity.

We call on the East Asia Summit to cooperate concretely in the fields of energy, food security, manufacturing and marine conservation. We call for closer cooperation on the preservation of sea security. Especially in the South China Sea, Indonesia calls on all parties to constrain themselves,to not use violence and to seek a solution based on international laws, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

I welcome the commitment to implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. I also support the completion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as soon as possible through consultations.


The article is an excerpt of President Joko Widodo'€™s address at the East Asian Summit in Myanmar on Thursday.

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